Pounding It Out: West Michigan leather craftsman inspires me to pick up my mallet

by jennifer

A week ago today I met a leather craftsman named Chris Howard. He stopped by my “free” booth at the Fulton Street Artisans Market, 1147 Fulton St. SE, with his family and we got to chatting. He told me about some of his projects and I decided to feature him in my Grand Rapids Press art and craft column. You can read about Chris on my newspaper blog. While you’re over there, scroll down to see the his leather representation of a crowning baby. Once you read his story, you’ll know why he has such a keen interest in birth art.

If you live in West Michigan, you can go meet him at the market. He’s planning to be there there today and next Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. He has also volunteered to do a leather craft demo at Craft Club at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the David D. Huntington YMCA, 475 Lake Michigan Drive NW, in Grand Rapids.

I’ve been leather crafting for less than a week, but I’m finding the more time I spend with it, the more addicted I become to pounding out messages with a cheap set of mini lettering tools from the hardware store. Which brings me to the next leather project I want to share with you. (I posted instructions for a simple key chain yesterday.)

Leather Writstband 101

Blank leather wristbands (I got mine from Tandy Leather Factory.)
Letter stamps (leather supply store or local hardware store)
Rubber or wool mallet
Leather stain or sealer (I used Eco-Flo Super Shene.)

This is probably one of the easiest leather projects out there because you can buy blank leather wristbands in three packs with the snaps already attached from leather supply and craft stores. This means you simply dampen the leather with a spray bottle and then let the water soak in for a bit. When the leather returns to the color it was before you wet it, you’re good to go.)

Now you can pound out your favorite message or quote with a rubber or wooden mallet and a set of small letter stamps from the hardware or leather shop.

After you’ve stamped out your text, you can use traditional leather stamps to add background texture to the piece, but this is optional. I happen to like these wristbands featuring simple text alone.

Finish your piece by applying an all-in-one finish that will seal the leather and add interesting color.

This project is a great one for dads to work on with the kids because it’s one of those great crafts that seems to appeal to both men and women. So this Father’s Day might be a great time to team up with a crafty dad and help the kids pound out some motivational wristbands.

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